Multi-agency inspection teams should be used to evaluate child protection services, according to the Munro review.
In her third and final review of child protection in England, published today, Professor Eileen Munro said future inspections should be unannounced and broad – covering all services, including health, education, police, probation and the justice system.
The ideal solution, she said, could lie in multi-inspectorate teams: “The relevant inspectorates (Ofsted, Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation) would jointly inspect the various aspects of safeguarding and child protection in each locality.”
Should limited resources prevent development of this model, the next best solution would be for Ofsted to conduct a local authority-based unannounced inspection of children’s services. This would consider “the input of other agencies into the child protection system from the perspective of the child”, Munro said.
Ofsted should consider seconding practitioners from local authorities, health, probation and police services, she said. These would ensure inspectors had the skills to make such a system work, as well as “mechanisms to enable skilled staff from other inspectorates to participate in appropriate elements of the inspection process”.
Munro also recommended that Ofsted inspections look at the effectiveness of interventions put in place for children and young people and how their rights, wishes, feelings and experiences are considered in decision-making.
The review sets out Munro’s concerns that a negative culture has developed around inspections in local authorities, informed by a perception that Ofsted inspects processes, timescales and guidance, rather than outcomes for children and young people.
“It is important that the new inspection framework dispels such perceptions,” she said. A new inspection system should focus on driving improvements for children; the quality of frontline practice; highlighting good practice and identifying whether professionals are learning, adapting and improving, the review stated.
An Ofsted spokesperson said the recommendations built on the “focus and the strengths of our current inspection programme. Ofsted looks forward to working with the government to develop the implementation of the key proposals in this review”.
Children’s minister Tim Loughton has already indicated that the government will be taking Munro’s recommendations seriously, telling the review’s launch that they would result in a “win-win situation” if implemented properly.
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